Open Thread for Monday, February 3, 2020

What America needs now is a really nice guy. Fortunately, we've got one.

What America needs now is a really nice guy. Fortunately, we’ve got one.

I almost did a Virtual Front Page, but that would have been the third in just eight days! I don’t want to spoil y’all, so we’re going for an Open Thread instead. They’re easier: I don’t have to come up with a lede and rank the items in importance, and I can pull in opinion, which is more in my wheelhouse anyway. (I was the front page editor at two papers in the ’80s, but that was a long time ago — or so everyone keeps telling me and Joe Biden.)

The hard thing about VFPs is, there are a lot of rules. Things are looser in an Open Thread:

  1. Why don’t we all just ignore Iowa and New Hampshire? — Not a bad idea, particularly given that Iowa is caucuses, not even a primary. Have you READ the rules of this insanity? People standing around in groups, and then if their group is less than 15 percent of the total in the room, they regroup and the losers gravitate to second choices? It’s like ice-breaker games at that team-building retreat the soulless corporation you work for made you go to. (See what I did there? Two dangling prepositions in one sentence! Can I write, or what?)
  2. Senate hears closing arguments — Switching over to news now… and can you imagine that they’re still going through the motions as though this were still an actual trial being conducted by an actual credible deliberative body. I don’t see how the House managers made themselves get up this morning and do this. But at least they are doing their duty, so my hat’s off to them.
  3. Super Bowl halftime show was ‘sexual exploitation,’ Franklin Graham says — Really? Ya think? I knew that and I didn’t watch it. Has Graham been doing a Rip Van Winkle for the last five or six decades? Has he been somehow walled off from popular culture? Why the news flash at this particular point?
  4. Earth Fare grocery chain closing all stores, including in Columbia — This just in, and it kind of blew my mind. It suggests a lot of questions: Why now, instead of back when Whole Foods opens? Do we think Whole Foods will last since Amazon has taken it over and corporatized it? Couldn’t Earth Fare have hung on a little longer to see what happened there? How do small local shops like Rosewood Market and 14 Carrot hang on while Earth Fare can’t? Business and the way it works is just such a mystery to me…
  5. Super Bowl Ads 2020: Strange, Serious, Smaaht, And So Very Expensive — Some of y’all probably watched this, so tell me: Were there any really good ones, ones I might want to go watch on YouTube?
Did anyone besides me find it kind of hard to read the Roman numeral with that odd thing between the L and I?

Did anyone besides me find it kind of hard to read the Roman numeral, with that odd thing between the L and I?

15 thoughts on “Open Thread for Monday, February 3, 2020

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    To whet your appetite for that Bruni piece, here’s how it starts:

    DES MOINES — I’ve heard Joe Biden speak twice in Iowa over recent days. Both times, I walked away barely able to remember a single issue he mentioned. I had to check my notes. Ah, yes, guns: He touched on that. Climate change, too. That flitted by.

    But Biden’s closing argument in Iowa, whose caucuses Monday night provide the first meaningful measure of the traction that the various Democratic candidates have found, doesn’t hinge on any of those. That’s because his bid for his party’s presidential nomination doesn’t, either. Maybe more than any campaign I’ve observed over the past quarter century, it’s about character — his and the country’s.

    It’s about honesty, decency, empathy, humanity. For reasons we’ll be plumbing for many years to come, America in 2016 elected a president bereft of those traits, and the country ever since has been in a moral free fall. So Biden is waging a “battle for the soul of the nation.” It says so in big letters on the side of the bus that has been carrying him through this state. He’s running to reconnect America with the best of itself….

    Bruni’s making the same point I’ve made here before — I can’t recite policy positions when it comes to Joe, because I don’t care about them. I just want to have a decent, normal human being as my president. And Joe fits that perfectly…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      To quote Bruni again: “He’s running to reconnect America with the best of itself…”

      He’s reaching out to us the way Lincoln did, appealing to us to listen to the “better angels of our nature.” And I utter reject the cynicism that dismisses Biden’s appeal to get along as unrealistic in our era. Even as the nation was breaking apart and beginning four years of the bloodiest war in our history, with Americans killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands, Lincoln had the courage to say:

      We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature….

      And ultimately, when all the bloodshed was done, he was right…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And four years later, he had not lost that “naive” way of seeing things:

        With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

        It’s because we have the example of people like him that people like me have the courage to carry with trying to bring about the dream of America…

  2. Harry Harris

    Regarding Franklin Graham’s comments, I have long believed that out hyper-sexualized society is harmful to children’s development and to adults’ value systems. I wish he had the moral insight to see the greater sins we are falling for – you know, the ones Jesus actually spoke about and counselled against. I guess the logs in his eyes like excessive compensation for heading two non-profits and impaired judgment concerning Donald Trump’s behavior and intentions keep him from holding much weight with me when lecturing others.

      1. Harry Harris

        I’m with you on the difficulty reconciling following Jesus and Trump. Then I examine the church in Germany during the third reich. Split between the Confessing Church and most Catholics on one side and the state-oriented German Evangelical Church, Hitler seized and controlled one and considered the other group enemies of the state. One got the power and privilege, the other the scorn and persecution. All the state church had to give for that status was their conscience and souls. One Nation! One God! One Reich! One Church! Yes, it can happen.

  3. Mark Stewart

    Whatever one may think of Schiff, he is eloquent and his rhetoric put the GOP Senators in the tightest possible box for Wednesday’s vote.

    If the GOp can’t crawl out of the amoral hole that they have dug themselves protecting the indefensible president, perhaps they will vote against conviction and removal – and also against acquittal? If that is as far as the Senate feels they “dare* tread…

    History is going to be very unkind to the last five years; and to those who chose to be complicit.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, I have no idea. I don’t think in those terms. Iowa is an idiotic contest, which the nation should ignore. But since it won’t, it would be great if he won there. It would save a lot of trouble. But if he doesn’t win there, we’ve got South Carolina.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        “Iowa is an idiotic contest, which the nation should ignore.”

        NARRATOR VOICE: Little did they know how right he was…

        Wow, what an absolute meltdown in Iowa last night.


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